Gameplay (3D Game Engine + Ray Tracing = Visual Attention through Eye Tracking)

Abstract: Research into gameplay can contribute to more self-conscious approaches to design, allowing designers to create effective gameplay with less testing, or to target specific cognitive and emotional affects of gameplay for serious games applications. Self-conscious design includes theoretically motivated design of game systems to facilitate gameplay motivated by cognitive, scientific and/or rhetorical theories of game affect and functionality. Deepening the understanding of gameplay requires a consideration of basic epistemological questions about the nature of understanding. Understanding gameplay is a matter of generating mappings to explanatory frameworks in alternative interpretation paradigms. All games are cognitive skill learning environments, and an especially useful approach that may aid in the creation of more self-conscious game design practices is to conduct research into gameplay using theories and methods of cognitive science and cognitive psychology. On this basis, a framework is proposed based upon the integration of schema theory with attention theory. Cognitive task analysis provides a foundation for developing schema descriptions, which can then be elaborated according to more detailed models of cognitive and attentional processes. This approach provides a rich explanatory framework for the cognitive processes underlying gameplay. Playing a commercial PC or consol game is a highly visual activity regardless of whether the purpose is entertainment or situated learning. Information about the visual attention of the player is an important foundation for detailed schema modelling. A range of different eyetracking equipment has been used in many studies of visual cognition. However, very few studies describe dynamic stimuli involving the visual interaction of a user/ player with a moving 3D scene displayed on a computer screen. In order to address this, a software interface has been developed linking a Tobii™ eyetracking system with the HiFi game engine for use in automated logging of dynamic 3D objects of gaze attention. The system has been verified in a detailed study, confirming correct operation of the system as well as providing a characterisation of its spatial and temporal accuracy. The integrated Tobii/HiFi system has been validated in a study to test three hypotheses concerning visual attention in a first-person shooter (FPS) computer game. Firstly, the cuing effect of the passive gun graphic on visual attention was tested, with no evidence being found to support this hypothesis. A second hypothesis, that a player directs their gaze at a target opponent while shooting at them, was found to be supported in most cases, while in a small percentage of cases targeting is achieved in peripheral vision. Finally, in most cases, a player targets the nearest opponent. These results provide a baseline for further investigations in which the stimulus game design may be modified to provide more detailed models of the visual cognitive processes involved in gameplay and how they are involved in player decision-making.